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Is Consumer Services a Good Career Path for 2024? Here's the Verdict Consumer services is a broad field with a variety of benefits and drawbacks. Here's what you should consider before choosing it as a career path.

By Dan Bova Edited by Brittany Robins

Key Takeaways

  • The consumer services industry is broad and encompasses a variety of roles.
  • The demand for consumer services is growing and the 2024 job market is strong.
  • If you enjoy customer-facing roles, consumer services could be a good fit.

It's no secret the job market is changing. With technology rapidly evolving, some career fields that once offered a bevy of opportunities are being replaced by automation. The consumer services field, however, is still growing and may be an excellent option if you're looking to switch to a new industry.

Here, you'll learn all about the field of consumer services, some of its most in-demand roles and how to get started.

What are consumer services?

Consumer services broadly refers to efforts from businesses that are trying to meet the needs of their customers. These businesses can be small or large, but they all share one common goal: to provide a service that meets the needs of their consumer.

The consumer may not be the direct purchaser of a product, which is where consumer service differs from other service fields, such as customer service. Instead, consumers are the end users of your product or service, and consumer services comprise your support for consumers, even if they didn't directly purchase your product or service.

Related: 3 Strategies to Improve Your Customer Service Experience

Consumer services can include everything from grocery stores and restaurants to car dealerships and healthcare providers. To succeed, people in consumer services must identify the needs of their target market and design a service that meets those needs.

They must also effectively promote their service and build a good reputation among their target market. By meeting these goals, consumer services professionals can satisfy their customers and build a successful business.

The 2024 job outlook for careers in consumer services

If you're interested in a career in consumer services, the job outlook is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that employment in this field would grow by 11% between 2016 and 2026, and so far those trends have held. Relative to other occupations, consumer services is poised for growth in 2024.

You may be curious about why the outlook in the consumer services field is so rosy. There are several reasons for this growth. First, as the baby boomer population ages, the need for healthcare services in the U.S. is expected to increase. This includes medical and non-medical care, everything from hip replacement surgery to living assistance when people can no longer care for themselves.

Industries like travel and hospitality have also been growing rapidly in recent years as consumers place more value on experiences and seek a better work-life balance. Many people's lifestyles have changed recently, and overall it's been a boon for the consumer services market.

Keep these tips in mind if you want to launch your consumer services career:

  • Many positions require at least some formal training or education.
  • You'll need to work well with people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Be patient and compassionate as you work with individuals facing complex challenges.

The pros of a career in consumer services

A career in consumer services can be enriching for clients and service providers. For clients, having adequate support for your products and services will round out and enhance their experience with it; for the service providers, happy consumers often lead to a boost in brand awareness and a more positive image associated with their products and services.

Consumer service representatives help customers with their orders and often provide customer service through social media platforms or via online chat. They also help to resolve product returns and exchanges. Consumer service representatives often have the opportunity to work from home, which can be an added perk.

The job can sometimes be stressful but also exciting. If you're interested in a career in consumer services, research the various industries and companies that offer this position. Some of those industries include:

  • Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Food and dining
  • Travel and hospitality
  • Recreation
  • Transportation services
  • Technology support

Related: Tips for Landing a Career in a New Field

The cons of a career in consumer services

A career in consumer services can come with its fair share of challenges. One of the most significant drawbacks is dealing with angry customers. While most people are reasonable, there will always be a small percentage who are impossible to please. This can be frustrating for some, while others might enjoy the challenge.

Plus, consumer service jobs often require shift work—meaning even if you're working remotely, you may work untraditional hours which can make maintaining a healthy work-life balance challenging.

Related: Work-Life Balance Is Essential for Entrepreneurs

Is a career in consumer services right for you?

As rewarding as it can be, consumer services positions are not suitable for everyone. Here are a few things to consider as you decide if this type of position is right for you.

Do you enjoy working with people?

A career in the consumer services sector is all about providing customer support and assistance, so if you don't enjoy working with people, there may be a better career for you. Besides interacting with customers daily, you must prepare to work well with a team and possibly handle other responsibilities around the office. While this is typically a general requirement for a job, you should give this extra weight if you're considering consumer services.

Related: The Best Careers for Your Personality Type (Infographic)

What are your interpersonal skills and qualifications?

You may want to consider pursuing a degree in customer service or a related field, but it's best to enter a consumer services role with previous experience in customer service. This will demonstrate you are capable of resolving issues and can handle a little heat from upset customers.

Often with consumer services, you're dealing with people who are frustrated because they haven't been able to resolve an issue or to reach a real person on the phone. That means during your first point of contact, you may have to de-escalate a situation. The key is approaching the job determined to treat others with respect and learning as much as possible about what your company offers to customers.

Related: A Successful Career Path Doesn't Have to Be Linear

What are your goals?

What do you hope to achieve by pursuing a career in consumer services? Are you looking for flexible hours or do you want to eventually move into management? Knowing your goals will help you narrow your options and find the right path.

There are many potential starting points in consumer services. Instead of simply accepting the first job that comes your way, you should put some more thought into it.

For instance, try to write out your skills, qualifications and goals. Visualize the direction you'd like to take your career and life, and then look for a job that can help you build that career path.

Related: Hybrid, Remote Work or Flexible Hours? Know Your Team and What Motivates Them

How to set yourself up for success in consumer services

When it comes to having a successful career in consumer services, it's essential to set yourself up for success from the outset. First and foremost, you must have a passion for helping people and be able to consistently provide top-notch service.

It's also helpful to have some field experience, whether through customer service training or previous experience working in a customer-facing role. Being well-organized and having excellent communication skills are also important for consumer services.

Adequately understanding and articulating issues with products and services will go a long way with consumers, helping address their issues efficiently and with care. If you check these boxes, you're ready to embark on a career in consumer services. Start by looking for entry-level jobs in the industry. Once you have a few years of experience, you can work your way up the ladder and seek managerial or supervisory roles. No matter the type of position you have, you should always strive to exceed expectations.

What are the best consumer services jobs?

There are a variety of consumer services jobs to consider, each with unique responsibilities. Here are a few of the most common consumer services occupations:

1. Customer service representative

As a customer service representative, you'll be responsible for providing top-notch customer service and helping resolve customer issues. This is a great job for those who enjoy helping others and have excellent communication skills. It can also be a perfect stepping stone to a wide range of other positions in the future, such as managerial positions within consumer services or entering related fields such as customer retention or consumer support consultation.

Related: Why Customer Service Is a Great Training Ground for Employees in Any Position

2. Manager

A consumer service manager oversees all aspects of the customer service process, from hiring and training staff to ensuring that customers are happy with their experience. This could be the perfect job if you have strong organizational skills and a passion for customer service. However, remember that you will typically need some experience in the field or with the company to qualify for a managerial position.

3. Salesperson

A salesperson in the consumer services industry is responsible for selling products or services to consumers. This can be an ideal occupation for those who are outgoing and enjoy meeting new people.

4. Account executive

An account executive manages and maintains existing client relationships. This job requires you to work collaboratively with others, be highly organized and think critically to solve customers' problems.

5. Trainer

A consumer service trainer teaches and mentors customer service representatives on how to provide excellent customer service. This could be a great option if you are passionate about customer service and like to teach others; however, you'll want to ensure you're a comfortable and capable public speaker.

Consumer services companies

Almost every large company in retail, hospitality, healthcare, travel and other industries employ consumer services professionals. For example, stores like Target and Best Buy have sales associates and customer service representatives onsite, airlines have customer service professionals at gates and at call centers and even technology companies have teams who assist users and customers.

There are also companies whose primary goal is to provide consumer services to other companies in a variety of industries. Talkdesk, for instance, is a cloud-based call center that helps businesses improve their customer service.

The verdict: Is consumer services a good career path?

The answer to that question depends on your personal goals and preferences. If you want a job where you get to tackle new challenges on a daily basis, then the consumer services sector may be the perfect fit.

Customer experience remains a top priority for companies across all industries. So, there are plenty of opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in consumer services.

You can build a long-lasting career in consumer services as long as you can communicate effectively with others (and enjoy doing it), have a knack for problem solving and are able to help customers feel confident in your company's products or services.

Looking for more? Explore Entrepreneur's vast library of business and professional resources here.

Dan Bova

Entrepreneur Staff

VP of Special Projects

Dan Bova is the VP of Special Projects at Entrepreneur.com. He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim, and Spy magazine. His latest books for kids include This Day in History, Car and Driver's Trivia ZoneRoad & Track Crew's Big & Fast Cars, The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff, and Wendell the Werewolf

Read his humor column This Should Be Fun if you want to feel better about yourself.

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